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Understanding Photo Image Sizes

Often photographs and other digital images are described by their resolution.  Resolution describes both pixel count and pixel density whereas camera resolution is measured in megapixels (or millions of pixels).  Both image file resolution and computer monitor resolution are measured in either pixels per inch (ppi) or pixel dimension; and printer resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi).  All of this can make it a bit difficult to understand the translation between devices since each uses a different unit of measurement.

It all comes down to resolution and resolution equals information, whether measured as megapixels, ppi, or dpi.  Essentially, the more pixels your image has, the larger the image can be reproduced.  In other words, the higher the density of pixels in an image, the greater the liklihood that the image will display more detail and quality.

So the major question here is what should the resolution of my image or photograph be for your project?  It really all depends on what you intend to do with the photo or image.  The following table will provide guidance on the approximate image resolution and file sizes to produce the maximum dimension product.

Image Dimensions (pixels) File Size (MB) Maximum Dimensions (inches)
1200 x 1600 1 MB 16" x 20"
1500 x 2000 1.6 MB 22" x 28"
1800 x 2400 2 MB 24" x 36"
1950 x 2600 2.5 MB 30" x 40"
2000 x 3000 2.8 MB 36" x 48"

 

Recommended Sizes for Various Products

Image Dimensions (pixels) Camera Equivalent Recommended Print Sizes Recommended Products
640 x 480 0.3 megapixels 4" x 6" Small photographs
1024 x 768 0.8 megapixels 4" x 6" Small photographs, magnets, stickers
1152 x 864 ~1 megapixels 5" x 7" Small photographs, stationary, magnets, stickers, greeting cards
1600 x 1200 ~2 megapixels 8" x 8", 8" x 10" Small posters
2000 x 1600 ~3 megapixels 11" x 14", 12" x 12", 16" x 20", 20"x 30" 11" x 14" posters or larger poster
2400 x 3600 ~8 megapixels 24" x 36" 24" x 36" canvas prints, larger posters

Please Note that images found on the web are typically a low resolution and not optimal for printing. Most images online are also protected by copyright laws.  Please do not use images from the web unless you have verified they are not copyright protected and are an acceptable resolution.